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Driven: All tracks lead to Volkswagen Passat

Track star: The VW Passat Alltrack has risen by $1000 over the outgoing model, but it gains a lot more kit.

Volkswagen’s overhaul of the Passat Alltrack brings plenty beneath the skin


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25 Feb 2016

VOLKSWAGEN has continued its rollout of Passat variants in Australia, with the launch of the all-new high-riding Alltrack – priced from $49,290 plus on-road costs – part of the company’s renewed focus on SUVs and crossovers.

As a significant part of the new SUV strategy, the car-maker is pushing the all-terrain Alltrack side of the Passat nameplate that is responsible for over 22 million sales globally.

At the launch of the new-generation version of the Passat Alltrack in New South Wales this week, Volkswagen Australia passenger vehicles product manager Glenn Reid said the balance was shifting towards SUVs, but Golf was still it's top-seller by some margin.

“We're trying to bring more SUVs to the market, Tiguan comes out later in the year,” he said. “We're also looking at filling the smaller end of the market, Tiguan has grown and it's much bigger,” he said.

Mr Reid’s comments about a sub-Tuguan model come the same week that VW announced it would rip the covers off a new compact SUV concept at the Geneva motor show in early March.

Upgrades to the connectivity and safety features lists of the new Passat Alltrack are accompanied by a boost in power and torque and a $1000 price rise to $49,290 plus on-road costs, but not at the expense of fuel economy.

“We've kept the price rise minimal but have put so much gear into it, the active safety features. It's a much bigger car too, I think we can sway some buyers,” Mr Reid said.

The new model is powered by the EA288 2.0-litre turbo-diesel (with an updated turbo) offering 140kW between 3500 and 4000rpm, and 400Nm between 1750 and 3000rpm, increases of 15kW and 50Nm respectively.

The company says it has a combined fuel-consumption figure of 5.4 litres per 100km, down from the previous model's 6.3L/100km thanks to the presence of an engine idle-stop system and brake energy recuperation systems it retains the AdBlue-based selective catalyst reduction emissions system of the regular Passat to reduce oxides of nitrogen (NOx).

The six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission also has a coasting function that's part of the Alltrack’s Eco drive mode, as well as a model-specific off-road mode that changes the electronic traction and throttle systems.

Off-road mode also automatically engages the variable-speed hill descent control, which can run between five and 30km/h and is adjustable using the accelerator.

Predominantly driving the front wheels, the new Alltrack brings the rear axle into play with the latest generation 4Motion Haldex all-wheel drive system, with an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch that can send almost 100 per cent to the rear as required.

VW said the power distribution to all four wheels is activated even before slip occurs, which the company claims almost entirely eliminates any loss of traction.

The AWD system also has electronic differential locks within the electronic stability control system that will send drive away from a spinning wheel, as well as braking the inside wheel during faster cornering to deliver better cornering.

Towing capacity has risen 400kg to a braked maximum of 2200kg – although a 90kg ball download is unchanged – but the vehicle weight has fallen 33kg to 1671kg around half of that weight loss has come from changing the underbody protection to plastic from steel.

Overall length has dropped to 4777mm from 4881mm, with a 12mm increase in width to 1832mm but height has dropped 44mm to 1506mm.

In line with the width increase, the front track has grown 34mm to 1580mm but rear track has increased only 18mm to 1563mm.

Despite the slightly shorter overall length the wheelbase has increased 80mm to 2791mm a rear load space of 639 litres, rising to 1769 with two aboard, is an improvement of 49 litres and 53 litres respectivelyThe Alltrack's full-size alloy spare is thought to be the difference from the current Passat's 650/1780 litre load space.

The cargo area offers an impressive interior length of 1172mm up to the back of the rear seats and 2018mm of interior length up to the back of the front seats.

With convenience and practicality in mind, the Passat Alltrack also provides owners with a luggage partition net, shopping bag and load restraint hooks, interior illumination and a 12V socket in the boot. The Alltrack's clearance has also risen from the outgoing car's 165mm to 174mm, or 27.5mm higher than the front-wheel-drive Passat wagon, with an Alltrack-specific front grille and foglights, wheel arch mouldings, badging and flared side sills further differentiating it from the front-drive wagon. An extra $3500 for a Luxury Package is the extent of the options list (with a 30 per cent uptake), adding adaptive high and low beam LED headlights (instead of dusk-sensing and DRLs using halogen), as well as LED daytime driving lights, a panoramic glass sunroof, LED ambient interior lighting, power-folding exterior mirrors and the latest incarnation of the auto-parking assistance system. Wheel size for the new Alltrack has grown to 18-inch alloys and is of a model-specific Kalamata design, part of a features list that includes cloth/leather trim, a reach and rake adjustable leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel and gearshift knob, tri-zone climate control (with rear vents and control), adaptive cruise control, an 8.0-inch satnav infotainment system with touchscreen controls and proximity sensors, auto opening and closing boot, auto-dimming centre mirror, heated and power-adjustable exterior mirrors, heated front seats, powered seat adjustment for the driver, 40/20/40 split fold and flat-folding rear seat.

The infotainment system – which will display, when desired, steering angle, a compass and altitude – now includes App Connect, which it allows connectivity to MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The new Passat Alltrack comes standard with multi-collision and automatic emergency braking technology, blind-spot, lane-keeping and rear cross-traffic warning systems, a driver fatigue detection system, the self-sealing Continental mobility tyres, a low tyre pressure indicator, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, stability and traction control, nine airbags and the aforementioned full-size spare.

The self-sealing tyres can cope with leaks caused by objects up to five millimetres in diameter, which the company claimed covers about 85 per cent of typical flat tyres.

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